Chain and Gemstone Necklace: Creating a Personalized Gift

Creating a Personalized Gift

One of the best things about being able to design jewelry is to be able to create a personalized, unique gift especially for a specific person. When a good friend of mine adopted her second child from China, I created a pair of earrings for her that combined mahogany obsidian from Colorado and jade from China to symbolize her new family. She loved the simple earrings and so did I–it was probably one of the best gifts I've ever given.

I was reminded of that experience recently when I received a necklace design from Jennifer Judd. Her chain and gemstone necklace was beautiful, but I'll admit it was the story behind it that got me hooked.

Jennifer's Story

"I happen to be an Air Force Officer for my 'real job' when I'm not sitting at my beading table, so I spend a lot of time with other military folks. One of my friends, who is currently dating an Army Officer, approached me about getting her a unique gift before her upcoming six month assignment in Baghdad. She is partly Cherokee Indian and relies heavily on her spiritual beliefs and the meaning of gemstones.

Since I'm not an expert on gemstones, I spent a little time researching gemstones and colors that symbolized protection and bravery. After much reading, I focused on a combination of orange and green: Canadian jade, ocean jasper, cherry agate, and carnelian. I added red seed beads as accents to each beaded section because the color red symbolizes success and triumph. It's also a typical component of Native American beadwork. To keep the necklace lighter, I divided it into seven sections of beads (seven is a powerful Cherokee number) connected with seven links of silver chain. To help the necklace drape properly, I added a simple pendant of coordinating stones in the center section.

Because she won't be able to wear the necklace while in uniform, I also made single-stone pendants that she can string on her dog tag chain that she'll have on all the time. It's not exactly regulation, but will give her some comfort and remind her of the man who gave them to her."

Free Project: Nan's Protective Necklace by Jennifer Judd

If you're curious about some common gemstone meanings, check out Jean Campbell's post, "Healing Beads: The Special Meaning Behind Gemstones."

I'd love to hear your stories about creating a personalized gift. What did you make? How did the recipient respond? Share your stories on the website.  


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Michelle Mach shares free projects every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.

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Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  You can also follow me on Twitter at: Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

5 thoughts on “Chain and Gemstone Necklace: Creating a Personalized Gift

  1. I love making personalized jewelry gifts when I have the time. For the last three years, my kids and I have made jewelry gifts for their elementary school teachers as an end-of-year thank you or for Teacher Appreciation Week. My kids and I work together to come up with a color scheme and design based on the teacher’s style and favorite color. If the project involves just stringing, I have my kids do that part. If it uses more complicated techniques such as wire wrapping, I’ll handle it but check in with them often to make sure they like what I am doing. It is always a team effort! The teachers really appreciate having something made just for them and designed by one of their students, and the kids really feel good when they see their teachers wear their special gift. The best part? Even when my child has long since left that classroom, the teacher will have a personal memento to remember him/her by.

  2. I love making personalized gifts that incorporate the symbolism of gemstones and their colors. A few months ago I made a bracelet for a girlfriend who had been trying to concieve their first child with her new husband for over a year, composed of moonstones and onyx, promoting fertility, love, and marital bliss. She e-mailed me on Monday: they’re pregnant!!! She’s going to loan the bracelet to a mutual friend of ours and hope it works for them too.

  3. Many times, making jewelry relieves the stress of my day, and this was especially true when my dad was dying of cancer last summer. During those months of sadness, lovely beads caught my eye, and from those moments, gifts of beaded bracelets in every shape and color were assembled for family and friends. The creative process seemed to soothe my soul, and the love of creating for others has grown since that time. The satisfaction of designing a bracelet for a birthday is the ultimate in gift giviing.

  4. Michelle,
    What a lovely story. Being new to beading, I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to recognize the expressive depth and resonance in this community. Many thanks for this.

    David Pyle
    Division Publisher – Bead, Gem + Jewelry